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Let's try a bit of truth recovery... Adams alone was responsible for pulling plug on Stormont negotiations

SF president acted as a dictator, not a negotiator, as he led his party out of the Executive, says Nelson McCausland

At 4pm on Monday, the deadline passed at Stormont and there was no agreement among the political parties in Northern Ireland. The responsibility for that impasse lies almost entirely at the door of Gerry Adams and the “hard men”.

The media turned to politicians, commentators and members of the public for comment and the reaction from some people was to blame an unspecified “them” as if every party and participant in the talks was equally to blame.

I even heard one interview where a community worker reduced it to “they fell out with each other” and, when asked what she would do, she replied “I don’t know”.

However, to blame some unspecified “them” is shallow and superficial, and is often simply an attempt to avoid speaking the truth.

Only one party walked out of the Executive and that was Sinn Fein. Only one party forced an election and that was Sinn Fein. Only one party created a series of hard “red lines” and that was Sinn Fein.

Only one party walked away from the negotiations and that, too, was Sinn Fein. Once again, Sinn Fein put their narrow sectional interests above the interests of the people of Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, some people (and some political parties) are afraid to name Sinn Fein and shame Sinn Fein.

Of course, it was highly unlikely there would be an agreement. Long before Monday afternoon, it was clear that Sinn Fein were on the offensive and that they were at their most aggressive, abrasive and intransigent.

Just think back to that outrageous performance in the European Parliament, about 10 days after the election, when MEP Martina Anderson, a convicted terrorist, rewrote the history of the Troubles and told the Prime Minister to “stick the border where the sun don’t shine”.

It was an arrogant, ignorant and angry performance, but it was a reminder of where Sinn Fein are just now.

The arrogance of Sinn Fein was a major obstacle to agreement. Throughout the talks at Stormont it was “all about Adams”. He was the negotiator, not Michelle O’Neill.

She knew that he had selected her and appointed her and she knew her place. If someone was to make a film of the talks, Michelle O’Neill would just about merit a listing among the extras, because it was “all about Adams”.

And all Adams was interested in was “his mandate” and “his demands”. There was no equality, no inclusion and certainly no respect for any other party.

The Sinn Fein approach, as dictated by Gerry Adams, was one of arrogance and intransigence. It was as if no other party had a mandate and that the only mandate that mattered was his. That is the approach of the dictator, not the negotiator.

There is a big difference between negotiating an agreement and presenting a series of “red-line” demands.

The arrogance of Sinn Fein is a major problem, but so too are the issues they have made “red line” issues.

When Pat Sheehan announced in west Belfast that an Irish Language Act was a “red line” for Sinn Fein, he was securing the support of much of the Irish-language sector.

However, he also ensured that Irish language groups, like Pobal, are now sitting like hawks on Gerry Adams’s shoulder holding him to the promise of a stand-alone Irish Language Act.

Sinn Fein also demanded their way on dealing with the legacy of the past, but as one former republican prisoner admitted: “Truth recovery up north is about recrimination, not reconciliation.”

Sinn Fein are never going to open up about what was done by the IRA, because that would mean opening up about who ordered the La Mon Hotel atrocity, who planted the Enniskillen bomb and so much more. They want to focus on the Army and nurture a spirit of anti-British grievance, while at the same time portraying terrorists as saints.

Sinn Fein may talk about equality, integrity and respect, but we haven’t seen much sign of it from them in the negotiations.

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